Nerf guns are more than just a children’s toy, doctors warn. They can cause serious eye injuries if people are not careful.
Physicians at a London eye hospital have treated three people with internal bleeding around the eye, pain and blurred vision after children shot them with bullets from the toy guns, the BBC reports. The doctors recommend wearing protective eye goggles when around Nerf guns, and add that the safe age limit for playing with the toys may need to be re-examined.
Hasbro, the toy manufacturer that makes Nerf guns, warns players not to aim at the eyes or face. It advises on its packaging that only bullets made for the toy should be used, not other foreign objects.
Nerf guns are designed for children eight years old and older, according to Hasbro’s packaging. There are also replacement bullets or darts available, but many cheaper versions are sold online or by other toy retailers.
The doctors, from Accident & Emergency at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said that these unlabeled bullet heads not officially promoted by Hasbro are more dangerous, as they are made of harder materials. Parents may not realize that these can cause more damage.
In their report, two adults and one child were hurt in separate Nerf gun incidents.
One man, 32 years old, was shot in the eyes from eight meters away by a child, and suffered blurred vision and a red eye.
A 43-year-old woman was likewise shot in her right eye from up close, and complained of similar symptoms. A child, 11 years old, was shot from around two meters, and said the same thing, though he had some pain in his eye.
After a few weeks, the patients’ sights returned to normal.
However, the doctors stated that projectiles like Nerf gun bullets could cause long-term vision loss, because they travel at high speeds. One patient informed the doctors that there are “numerous online videos which show children how to modify their guns to make them shoot harder, faster and further distance,” which poses more of a threat.
The report said, “This case series emphasizes the seriousness of eye injury from Nerf gun projectiles and calls into consideration the need for protective eyewear with their use.”
The study was published in BMJ Case reports.